Seedling Update!

Hey friends! So I don’t have any long post or fancy pictures planned out for this, but I just wanted to give a quick update on how my seedlings are doing.

This past Sunday, I did a little pre-germinating with the rest of the flower and veggie seeds I had left to start. You can see that post here!

In just three short days, almost ALL of my seeds had germinated!!! The only ones that haven’t made much progress are my cherry tomatoes, and my two kinds of beefsteak tomatoes. The romas, marigolds, zinnias, strawflower, and dianthus were all ready to go into their soil!

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Look at all their little roots! I’m like a proud parent or something, but I just can’t help but get excited when I start to see growth! It’s just amazing what comes from a little dried up speck… God is so good!

I hope you’re having a good week! I’ll hopefully have more to update on my seedlings soon!

Kaylene

 

Starting Seeds!!

Hey everyone! Sheesh! I’ve been super slacking over here in blog land. Work has been absolutely nuts since before Christmas and I just haven’t made the time to devote to this like I had originally planned. BUT! I hope this post finds whoever’s reading it well! I’ll just continue to preserver until I get this into a habit someday!

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Anywho, here in southwest PA spring is so close I can almost taste it! (Or smell it… not sure which!). Over the past few weeks I’ve been starting loads of seeds for my veggie garden and flower beds, and I’ve decided to document things a little better this year so I have a more detailed guide to reference in the future. I figured if I’m going to be taking pictures and writing things down, I might as will do it here and share it!

Here in the Pittsburgh area, our estimated last frost is April 29, although I always wait an extra couple of weeks to plant my seedlings outdoors, just in case we get a late cold snap (which is always possible). I know I could cover them and they would probably be fine, but like I always say, better safe than sorry!

The first things I started were some of my flowers that had to be planted 10 weeks before the last frost. So at the end of February I started pansies, petunias, torenia, and impatiens. These pictures are some of those seedlings. They’re definitely slower growing than the flowers I’m starting this week. These pictures are impatiens on the left and petunias on the right.

Last week I also started my sweet bell pepper seeds and the hot pepper salsa mix seeds I had. These two pictures are the first of the pepper plant seedlings emerging just this morning.

For all of those above here that I’ve already started, I filled my six packs with seed starting mix, moistened it, and then put the seeds in. I covered them either with those clear plastic domes or plastic wrap. That creates a sort of mini greenhouse in each tray. You want to keep your seeds and soil moist, but not dripping wet. Also, most of them germinate best at a warmer temperature. From what I understand, it should be at least around 70 to 75 degrees.

After I got all of those seeds planted and their trays covered, I put out a seedling heat mat and a string of Christmas lights on our kitchen counter and set the trays on top to keep everything warm enough.

Originally that whole set up was going to be the plan for the rest of my seeds as well. But when I was planning things out, I didn’t take into account exactly how many different things I wanted to start… we do not have space on our kitchen counter for 11 or 12 trays at at time!

So for the rest of my seeds (I just did these this morning), I decided I would try what’s called pre-sprouting or pre-germinating. Basically you wet a paper towel and place it either in a container that has a lid, or a plastic baggie. Then you put your seeds on top, label them, and put them in a place that will stay warm enough for germination. I left the baggies open so there would still be some air circulation. And now this is the lovely view from the top of my fridge!

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I’ve got 4 varieties of tomatoes, 3 colors of zinnias, strawflower, blue dianthus, and marigolds up there. I’ve read many success stories on other blogs and articles online, but I’ve never done it this way before, so I’ll keep you posted on how things turn out! They say that germinating your seeds this way cuts down on the amount of time it takes for roots to emerge and that as soon as you see roots you want to CAREFULLY plant them in your soil and place them under your grow lights.

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These are photos of some of the flowers I started last year with basically the exact same set up. They’ve got me longing for warmer weather in the worst way. But I suppose today is the first day of spring, so hopefully the sunshine and warmer temperatures aren’t too far off!

Happy seed starting everyone!

God bless,

Kaylene

New Year, New Nail Polish Storage!

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Hey friends!! Happy New Year! I hope 2016 has gone off to a good start for you all! Still on the topic of New Year’s Resolutions, one of the big ones on my list is to go through our entire house, purge all of the belongings we don’t use/need, and reorganize everything that’s left. We’ve only lived in our apartment for a little over 1 1/2 years, but belongings pile up before you know it. I’m beginning to feel overwhelmed by all that we have, which  is a good sign we have way too much!

To start off on this big project, I decided to start with a small piece that will clear out a lot of clutter. By trade I’m a licensed cosmetologist, and even though I’m not pursuing that as my full time career right now, I’ll always have a love for the beauty industry. I love hair, nails, and makeup, but out of those three, my absolute favorite is doing nails! If I knew what I know now and I could go back in time, I probably would have only taken a nail tech course instead of going for cosmetology. But you know what they say – hind sight is 20/20!

My nail polish collection was getting way out of hand and it was all over the place. After emptying a tote bag, a grocery bag, and a caboodle type bag, (all taking up space in 3 different areas of the house) this is the mess I was left with.

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I started by separating my polish by type, gel and regular. I cleaned up all of the ones that had leaked from being tossed around in their bag, and then separated them into these handy little baskets I found at Dollar Tree. One for gels, one for regular polishes, and one for base/top coats and glitter polishes.

Once I had all of those organized, I separated out my other tools and supplies into more baskets. One for all nail files and buffers, one for all loose glitters, nail art supplies, and paint brushes/dotting tools, one for all acrylic tools and supplies, and one for my mani kit and nail art sample wheels.

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The last step was to stack everything neatly into my little plastic bins. I found these a Michaels today. Usually I wouldn’t purchase this type of thing at a craft store because their prices are always really high, but they were 50% off, and I had a coupon for $5 off $25. So combined with my other purchases, they ended up being only a little over $3 each. (Don’t mind my messy desk… I’ll be tackling this room first in my decluttering mission).

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How long do you think I’ll be able to keep this organized? Knowing me, it won’t last long… but I’m sure gonna try to keep it neat and tidy!

I hope this will inspire some of you to get organized too and I hope you can keep up with your resolutions as well!

God Bless!

Kaylene

My Best Craft Show Tips

Hey everyone! I hope this finds you all well and ready to start the new year! Have you started thinking about any new year’s resolutions yet? I sure have, and as daunting as they seem, I’m a little excited as well.

One of my good friends recently contacted me about craft shows and fairs. This coming year, she’s decided that she wants to do her first of hopefully many craft shows. Doing more craft shows is also one of my resolutions for 2016, so what better way to get ready to ring in the new year than by sharing my best 11 tips!

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Now I’m going to preface this by telling you all that I am by no means a seasoned and experienced craft show vendor! I’ve only done a handful of shows, but I really wanted to share some of the basic things I’ve learned that will be helpful to someone who’s never done one before.

  1. Be organized in the way you store and travel with your products and displays. The more organized and streamlined you have all of your items and displays packed away, the quicker set up and tear down time will be and the less trips you’ll have to make from the car to your display area.
  2. This goes hand in hand with number one. Have a plan for your display and try it at home AT LEAST one time to make sure everything fits in your designated area and that it looks great! Again, this will cut down drastically on set up time. Add height and dimension to your display if at all possible. This will draw peoples eyes to your product. Try your best to keep it looking neat and organized. Clutter is bad when you’re trying to sell! I also recommend using a big table cover that reaches all the way to the ground so you can easily hide your storage (bins, boxes, bags, etc.) under the table.
  3. If you can (depending on sales tax rules in your area and for what you’re selling) price your items with even numbers (like $20 instead of $19.50). Doing this will eliminate your need to carry change in coins. All you’ll need is cash! If you do have to charge tax, and you’re mathematically inclined, unlike me, you can even try including tax in your price. It will make receipt writing and making change for customers much quicker and easier!
  4. Take a friend or family member with you! Having someone there to help you will make set up and tear down time go by much more smoothly and quickly. You’ll also have someone to watch your area and take care of your customers if you want to look around at the other vendors or if you need to take a bathroom break.
  5. Make your pricing and signing as clear and concise as possible! This is a big one!!! For whatever reason, 90% of people do not take even one second to look at signs. Even with what I thought was clear signage, I can’t tell you how many times a customer has picked up, say, a newborn sized hat and asked me if it would fit their 10 year old child and how much it costs. If you’re anything like me, this will absolutely drive you up a wall, so take the time to figure out how you’ll price and sign your products. I’d also recommend putting out a sign with your business name/logo on it and a sign that shows if you take credit and debit cards.
  6. Have lots of business cards ready! Include at least one with every purchase made, and hand them out to customers who seem even a little bit interested in your product. On your business card you’ll want to at least include your name, your business name and logo, what you sell, and how to contact you (Facebook, Etsy, email, blog, etc.).
  7. Look into getting a credit/debit card reader. I personally use a Square reader, but I know there are other brands out there. Just do some research and choose whichever works best for you. Most of these just attach to the headphone jack of your phone or tablet. All you need to do is download their app and you’re good to go! I love that it’s so simple to accept cards these days. Many people will only carry so much cash with them, so having a card reader is definitely important!
  8. Figure out the best way for you to take custom orders. People will inevitably ask if you have your products in other colors/sizes/styles, so you’ll want to be prepared. I would even consider asking for payment at that time (always give a receipt) so you don’t get stood up after spending your time, efforts, and resources on what they asked for.
  9. Don’t be afraid to greet and talk to people! This is something that I always struggle with, but I’ll tell you first hand that after talking to a few people it does get much less awkward and it becomes much easier. You saying ‘Hi, how are you?’ might just draw someone into your display who otherwise would have passed right by.
  10. Figure out who your target market is and sign up for shows where these people are. This will optimize your chances for making the greatest amount of profit. This may take some trial and error when you’re brand new to craft shows, but you’ll quickly  discover who and where your best shows are and where to spend your time.
  11. If your product is wearable, wear it! Walk around the show with it on and you’ll find that some people will come up to you and ask where you got it. You’ll be able to say ‘Oh, well I actually make them and I’m selling them right over there.’ At my last show, I had a caplet/poncho type garment that I didn’t think I cared for, but my mom put it on and walked around, and I had 4 or 5 people who came up and asked if I had any more for sale!

If anyone else has any great tips or tricks for craft shows, I’d love to see them in the comments! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and I hope you have a great New Year as well!

Kaylene

The BEST Laundry Detergent Recipe

Hey Everyone! I hope this post finds you all well!

I’ve been wanting to share this for a while, but I only have to make it about twice a year! I finally ran out a few weeks back and had an opportunity to take a few pictures of everything I use in my recipe.

We’ve been using homemade laundry detergent for a while now and I don’t think I’ll ever go back to store bought. It cleans super well and it doesn’t cost near as much as a good quality laundry detergent.

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For this you’ll need the following:

-1 large box of baking soda

-1 large box of washing soda

-1 large box of borax

-1 large box of an oxi-clean type product (I’ve been using the brand ‘Biz’)

-3 bars of Fels-Naptha soap

-2 bottles of fabric softening crystals

Start by grating the 3 bars of soap. I love this handy little grater/container I found at a junk store!

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Now all you need to do is layer the ingredients and mix it all up! I usually clean out our mop bucket and mix it all in there with a big spoon. It does get a bit heavy, so it helps to mix after each round of layers.

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I definitely recommend keeping it all in air tight containers so it doesn’t get hard. All you need is 2 tablespoons per large load, 1 1/2 tablespoons per medium load, and 1 tablespoon per small load.

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This made me about 35 cups of detergent, so considering that there are about 16 tablespoons in 1 cup, it would be about 560 tablespoons! If you do only large loads that comes out to 280 loads of laundry!! That’s a lot of clean clothes!

If you end up trying this laundry soap recipe let me know what you think! It can definitely be a huge money saver for your family and it works just as well as name brand detergent!

God bless!

Kaylene

Perfect Hand Painted Lettering

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Yikes!!! Has time gotten away from me again or what?!? I can’t believe that Thanksgiving is already next week. There were so many more things I was hoping to get done by now, but there are just so many hours in a day!

So, I’m going to squeeze in one more fall/autumn themed d.i.y. before the seasons change to Christmas everything. My inspiration for this came from a throw pillow I saw on Pinterest that read “Pumpkin spice and everything nice, that’s what Autumn is made of.” Since I’m not really great at sewing I decided to turn it into a distressed hand painted sign.

The great thing about this little tutorial is that the technique can be used for any wooden sign, no matter the time of year or holiday. I’m sure you may have seen similar tutorials on Pinterest and such, but I had never tried it and wanted to see if it was as easy as it seemed, and let me tell you – anyone can make a beautiful painted sign with this technique!

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You want to start out with whatever piece of wood you’re using for your sign. I always paint a layer of something dark underneath my background color because I love to distress my hand painted decor to let some natural wood and some dark paint show through. Revealing multiple layers really helps to make things look aged.

I’m using my good old standby Craft Smart acrylic paint – you really don’t need anything fancy. Or at least I don’t! On the left is after one heavy coat of my dark brown, and on the right is after 2 or 3 coats of my vanilla colored paint.

While you’re letting the coats of paint dry, you’ll want to open up your computer and find a font you like. Type out your phrase or word and enlarge it until you think it will be a good size for your sign. There really isn’t a way to be 100% sure of the perfect size, it’s more of a guess and check type of thing. I printed out only the first page of my text until I got it to the size I wanted.

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Once you have your text printed, go ahead and cut it out leaving just a little space around the letters. Lay it out on your sign and tape it down when you have it just how you like it.

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The next step is to take a pen and outline all of the letters. You may have to press down with quite a bit of pressure depending on what type of wood you’re using and how soft it is. The idea is to leave behind an indentation of the letters on the wood.

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If you look closely, you can see in the picture above the faint outline of the word ‘pumpkin.’ This is what we’re going for!

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When you’ve got all of your letters outlined all that’s left to do is fill them in with paint! I used a skinny paint brush and my dark brown paint. I ended up dong 2 coats for the letters to get an even coverage.

[Don’t mind my gross looking desk… since it’s been converted to my ‘craft area’ it has DEFINITELY seen better days!]

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I also chose to add a little pumpkin in the corner where I had some space leftover. Be creative with your sign and add some embellishments!

The last thing I did on my sign was distressing! This is obviously an optional step, but one that I always do when making painted decor for my own home. I usually just go the simple route of a plain piece of sand paper. Pay special attention to the edges and corners to really give it a rustic look.

Attach a picture hanger to the back and you’ll be ready to hang it up! This project takes a little bit of time and patience, which can definitely be a struggle, but the result is beautiful! People will be amazed when you tell them that you hand painted it yourself!

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I hope you give this technique a try! I was always so intimidated by making these types of lettered signs, but this is a super easy way to get perfect (or sort of perfect in my case) lettering every time!

I hope everyone has a WONDERFUL Thanksgiving next week!!! Enjoy these last few days of fall before the Christmas season totally takes over!

God bless!

Kaylene

 

 

How To Block Acrylic Yarn

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I’m sure there are some people out there who will scoff at me and turn up their nose when I say this… but I LOVE ACRYLIC YARN!!!

Now, you must realize that acrylic yarn has changed so much (for the better!!!) since the days long ago when it was just so darn ITCHY! Today’s acrylic yarns are soft, supple, and in my opinion, FABULOUS!!

Yes, I even like LOVE Red Heart Super Saver. I use it for many (most) of my projects. It’s not quite as soft as some other brands in the beginning, but simply running your items through the washer and dryer makes a world of difference!! I also love RHSS because it holds up so well through washing, wearing, and using. Sometimes the yarns that start off softer actually don’t hold up well at all, like Caron’s Simply Soft. Its so beautiful and shiny in it’s skein at the store, but I’ll be honest, this is one of my least favorite acrylic yarns.

One of my first big crocheting projects was a prayer shawl for my gram, using Caron Simply Soft. I used the All Shawl pattern by Doris Chan and it turned out beautifully! I was so proud of how it looked in the end!

But! A month or so after I gifted the shawl to my gram, I was visiting her at her house, and to my dismay, the yarn had gotten SO fuzzy and disheveled looking. I was EXTREMELY upset.

That exact anecdote is the reason I actually tend to choose a RHSS yarn first, before I would even think of using anything else.

Another acrylic yarn that I love and that I use most when I’m not using RHSS is Caron One Pound Yarn. It’s a nice soft acrylic that comes in a decent variety of colors, and I love that it comes in the big one pound skein. It works especially great for baby blankets!

Caron One Pound is the yarn I chose for the wrap that I’ll be demonstrating on. I used a pattern called Twilights Shadow Shawl. It’s available on Ravelry for only $2.99 and it’s well worth it! It’s another one of my all time favorite patterns. It’s also one that’s really easy to follow and works up quickly.

Now on to the real reason for this post… the myth that you can’t block acrylic yarn. I want to demystify this once and for all!! You don’t block acrylic in the same ways you may for other yarns, but that does not mean it can’t be done. The way you block acrylic is by steaming!

So first thing’s first, and that is to make sure the project you’re blocking is completely finished. Weave in all of your ends before you block to ensure that they’re nice and secure after the blocking is finished.

Next thing is to get your blocking area ready. I don’t have any fancy schmancy blocking boards, so I just lay out some big (clean) beach towels on the bed in our spare room a.k.a. the craft room. You’ll also want to fill up your iron/steamer and get it plugged in and heated up. We don’t have a steamer so I always use our plain old iron filled with water, set to the highest temperature setting.

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Now the real fun begins – pinning out your project. This can become a bit frustrating at times, especially with a bigger project like this shawl. Don’t give up though! It is SO worth it in the end. I recommend using the big upholstery t pins for this. They’re long and heavy and keep everything in place much better than regular sewing pins.

This is my shawl before pinning, so you can see the measurements before and after. It’s about 61″ end to end and about 26″ from center top to bottom.

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I didn’t have a set measurement in my head that I wanted this to be, I just wanted to get it as big as I could. I adore a big luxurious wrap or shawl! However, if you need your project to be a specific size, use your tape measure to guide you as you’re pinning your project out.

I started in the center of the top edge of the shawl and worked my way out, then brought the bottom middle point as far down as it would stretch.

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When I started pinning the bottom edge, I worked from side to side. I would pin a point on the left, then move over to the right side and pin the corresponding point to make sure I was keeping everything symmetrical.

This is what it looked liked all pinned out. You can see how much this opened up the stitches and made the pretty patterns more visible.

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To steam your project, you want to do whatever it takes to get the most even stream of steam coming out. You also want to keep your iron/steamer really close to your project without actually touching it. Touching your iron to acrylic yarn will result in ‘killing’ the yarn, which isn’t an effect you really want to see in most situations. Move your iron or steamer slowly and steadily over your project until you feel that you’ve gotten good coverage and penetration into the yarn.

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I always work in sections to make sure I don’t miss any spots. I’ll sometimes even go over the whole thing a second time to ensure that everything got enough steam.

Once everything is steamed, all you have to do is let it dry and take out the pins! This is what it looked like immediately after taking the pins out. As you can see, it didn’t shrink back up one bit!

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I folded it in half end to end in the picture below to make measuring a little easier. What started as about 61″ across and 28″ from top to bottom is now a whopping 72″ across and 36″ from top to bottom. I gained a total of 19″!!!

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Now as far as washing a blocked acrylic project goes, I can only think of one time that I read about it being permanent. I wanted to test it out and see what would happen to my blocked shawl after being washed.

So I threw it in the washer on a small load, cold wash and cold rinse, and on the delicate cycle. Once washed, I put it in the dryer on the lowest setting my dryer can manage.

Perhaps the dryer was where I went wrong… I took it out of the dryer thinking that it looked great! However, upon remeasuring, I found that it shrank back to it’s original pre-blocked size.

Unfortunately like most other types of yarn, it wasn’t a permanent fix for me and it will have to be blocked again after each wash. But on the bright side, hopefully I’ve helped some of you with any questions or fears on blocking acrylic! It’s really not as hard as it seems, and it’s definitely worth the few extra steps after you’ve finished knitting or crocheting your project!

I’d love to hear from anyone who’s tried blocking an acrylic project – how did it turn out? did you use an iron or a steamer? have you tried washing and drying it? if so, what were your results?

I hope you’re all having an awesome fall season so far!!

God Bless!

Kaylene